Nolan meets us on the beaches…
It could be argued the Dunkirk is the moment that changed the fate of the Second World War; it was the part in history that defined our resilience and our desire to win as a nation. I find it strange that so few people know about this historic event. It’s a good thing Christopher Nolan cares enough to make a film about it, so the real question is, will Dunkirk be a List for Schindler or just one Bridge Too Far?
Silence. That’s what dominates Dunkirk, silence. Nolan is never afraid to allow voids to speak for him, but in Dunkirk he finds an entirely different level to work on. No matter what we find on screen in these scenes we find ourselves considering the true horror of war and how deep an impact it has.
In Dunkirk Christopher Nolan has made something of a much deeper worth than any of his previous films. He has brought a reality to our screen which has forever been overlooked. Dunkirk has to be seen not because it’s a Nolan film, not because of the cast, not even because it’s a visual masterpiece. No, it’s because it has to be seen, we have to know what happened on the beaches of Dunkirk.
It can only be Nolan’s eye that can captivates in the smallest sequences, watching a spitfire soar in the sky is beautiful when seen via Nolan’s vision. This helps add to another important part of Dunkirk, the scale.
We are told during one conversation that there are almost 400,00 men stranded on the beaches of France, and we believe it. Much like The Hidden Fortress (or if you prefer Star Wars) we are shown the gravity and size of a gigantic conflict through the tale of smaller characters and in turn they are divided into three separate narratives.
The three parts are: The Mole (or land), The Sea and The Air. Each having their own protagonist. We start with The Mole, Tommy is one of the thousands of soldiers longing to get home we find him on the beaches of Dunkirk. The Sea gives us Mr. Dawson, a British sailor whose boat has been commandeered to aid at Dunkirk. Finally, The Air has Farrier, a RAF pilot whom is trying to save as many lives as possible from the sky above and over Dunkirk. These short introductions encapsulate each tale but, all three parts possess a deep richness that no words could do them justice.
As you can tell Dunkirk is not a complicated or unexpected story, there is no big reveal at in the finale, it’s not all a dream and he’s not a ghost, there is nothing like that. However, somehow Nolan still adds a unique spin on a unassuming tale, with his own personal narrative.
Dunkirk is a much more subtle film than any of us were expecting, everything from the stories to the silence to the brakes in action, even the ending, everything aids to help us feel how the soldiers did. Home but not victorious, it is a film that is designed to break us.
Dunkirk isn’t as ground breaking as Interstellar. It’s not the greatest film ever made like Inception. It’s not satisfying like The Dark Knight, but it as powerful and compelling as any of the films listed. Dunkirk is a film that demands to be seen not because of its creativity but because of its content.